Our history

We started because no charity like us existed. We'll end when no charity like us is needed. Thanks to amazing supporters like you, this is our story.

WaterAid/Geoff Crawford
1981

The Thirsty Third World Conference brings members of the UK water industry together. They decide to unite, to reach the millions of people living without clean water, decent toilets and good hygiene.

1981

WaterAid is officially established on 21 July 1981. Our first projects start in Zambia and Sri Lanka.

1985

We’re working with local partners in ten countries.

1988

Your support has helped us to reach 350,000 people. 

1991

HRH the Prince of Wales, becomes our first president.

1993

We begin work on our 1,000th project.

1993

We fund the Hitosa Gravity Scheme, the largest single water supply scheme in Ethiopia, reaching 50,000 people.

1994

We become one of Glastonbury Festival's chosen charities, along with Oxfam and Greenpeace.

1994

Our first advocacy report, Mega-slums: the coming sanitary crisis, is released. 

1999

Thanks to amazing people like you and our partners around the world, we've enabled over six million people to build a better life.  

2000

The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) aim to halve the number of people living without clean water by 2015.

2000

Alongside other groups, we successfully lobby to get sanitation added to the list of MDGs.

2002

The UN declares clean water a human right.

2003

We're now working in 15 countries.

2004

WaterAid becomes a global organisation, welcoming America and Australia as members.

2008

The UN declares an International Year of Sanitation. With toilets still a neglected topic, we address the UN commission for sustainable development, highlighting their importance.

2009

WaterAid Sweden is founded.

2009

We've reached 13.4 million people with clean water and 8.1 million with decent toilets.

2010

Access to decent toilets is declared a human right.

2012

Your support for our Big Dig appeal raises over £2 million for our work in rural Malawi, bringing clean water, toilets and hygiene to more than 134,000 people.

2013

WaterAid Japan is founded. We also join forces with charity WaterCan, who go on to become WaterAid Canada.

2015

In May, we launch an ambitious new global strategy to reach everyone, everywhere with clean water, decent toilets and good hygiene.

2015

You join forces to create our biggest ever petition of 115,056 signatures, calling on the UK Government to help the millions of people still living without clean water, toilets and hygiene.

2016

WaterAid India celebrate becoming a WaterAid member.

2016

Our supporters raise an astonishing £4,997,482 for our Deliver Life appeal. With many gifts matched by the UK Government, it’s enough to reach over 120,000 mums and their families with clean water.

2016

We've reached 24.9 million people with clean water, 24 million with decent toilets and 16.7 million with good hygiene, and counting...

Just £15 can help provide one person with access to clean water.

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